Bill banning surrogate pregnancies pulled

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TOPEKA, Kan. -- A Kansas Senate bill that would have made surrogate pregnancies a crime appears to be off the table for now.

The bill would have made entering into a surrogacy contract a misdemeanor subject to fines up $10,000 and as much as one year in jail.

Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook, R-Shawnee, who is also chairwoman of the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee said Tuesday she did not plan for the bill to go anywhere and that she just wanted to start a discussion about surrogacy.

There has been plenty of conversation.

"This is the buying and selling of children," said Jennifer Lahl, with the Center for Bioethics and Culture in the San Fancisco Bay area. "It's paying women to produce babies. If they don't produce babies, they don't get paid. Because what they're buying and paying for is a baby."

Lahl came to Kansas from the San Francisco area to testify in favor of a Kansas Senate bill that would have made it a crime for a woman to be paid to serve as a surrogate mother.

"We don't want these things to happen in Kansas," Lahl said. "We don't want chldren to be abused. We don't want children to be harmed. We don't want women to be hurt."

However, the bill ran into stiff opposition in Kansas. The opposition did not just come from lawmakers. It also came from parents like Geoff and Hilary Louvar of Wichita, whose 3-year-old son, Griffen, was carried by a surrogate.

"I think they should be encouraging people to grow families and not discouraging people from having a family," Geoff Louvar said.

Hilary at first could not believe the bill had been proposed.

"The first person who showed me this on Facebook said, 'Is this true? Is this really happening?' and I was like, 'No. It's Facebook,'" she said.

Among the arguments made by supporters of the bill: Surrogate pregnancies exploit low-income women.

"As a feminist, I cannot condone turning women into commodities for sale," said Kathleen Sloan, a member of the board of directors for the National Organization for Women.

Geoff Louvar said his son is not a consumer good.

"To me, I feel like he should feel more special and more important after he knows everything we did to create him," Louvar said. "And I think that just shows him how much we actually loved him."

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